More than half of consumers interested in buyback programs, study says

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Most consumers are willing to sell back used fashion if retailers offer it. (Image: Oribe)

H&M recently announced a shift in its manufacturing to a circular model in order to maximize materials and minimize waste. In this same 2017 sustainability report, H&M voiced its hopes that other brands in the fashion world would reach for this model and move away from the lineal model most retailer use today. And it seems that consumers are ready to do their part. 

A recent PA Consulting study, created with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and several members of the CE100, which looked at retailers including H&M, Amazon, Walmart, REI and eBay, outlines how some major retailers have created and implemented circular initiatives.

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According to PA Consulting, the average U.S. home has $7,500 worth of unused items, which adds up to a wasted $875 billion that can be put back into the economy. But it seems that consumers would be interested in opportunities provided by retailers to resell, recycle and donate old items, in all categories.

For example, 72% of respondents were interested in a buyback program for old electronics and 66% for old clothing. 

In showing their support for the environment, 57% of consumers said they would resell old electronics or clothing if they thought it would benefit the community, and 78% if it would prevent items from going into landfill. 

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What is currently preventing more consumers from contributing to this plan is 67% of electronics users and 59% of clothing consumers are looking for any easy way to donate. In general,  80% of consumers said they would recycle items if companies made it easy to do so. 

Karl Havard, retail expert at PA Consulting Group, said that it was surprising the way that consumers polled embraced the circular economy.

"The circular economy can be a catalyst for spurring new innovations within the organization—from both a cultural perspective, and how it helps companies approach the entire product and service design process from creation to sale," Havard said.

And David Rakowski, circular economy expert at PA Consulting Group, believes that a circular model could benefit both retailers and consumers. 

"With ever more hectic lifestyles, consumers are looking for retailers who enable their lives. Embracing circular economy principles offers a route to do that whilst reducing environmental impact. We have seen that retailers embracing these principles are starting to disrupt current business models and build stronger relationships with their customers," he said.